Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Series #5)

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Overview

A serial killer is stalking the young women of Shanghai. The killer’s calling card is to leave the victims’ bodies in well trafficked locations, each of them redressed in a red mandarin dress. With the newspapers screaming about Shanghai’s first serial killer, Party officials anxious for a quick resolution, and the police under pressure from all sides, something has to give.

 

Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department, a rising party cadre, is often put in ...

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Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Series #5)

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Overview

A serial killer is stalking the young women of Shanghai. The killer’s calling card is to leave the victims’ bodies in well trafficked locations, each of them redressed in a red mandarin dress. With the newspapers screaming about Shanghai’s first serial killer, Party officials anxious for a quick resolution, and the police under pressure from all sides, something has to give.

 

Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department, a rising party cadre, is often put in charge of politically senstive cases. But this time, there’s a catch—Chen is on leave, ostensibly to study for his Master’s degree, but also to sidestep being dragged into a messy corruption case with political overtones.

But when the murderer strikes directly at the investigative team itself, Chen must take over the investigation himself discovering that this, his most dangerous and sensitive case to date, has roots that reach back to the country’s tumultuous recent past.

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
"Runaway capitalism can be held accountable for a multitude of social sins, but can it be blamed for the acts of a serial killer? That’s one of the many intriguing questions posed by the poet and translator Qiu Xiaolong in his latest Inspector Chen mystery Red Mandarin Dress"
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Bringing 1990s Communist China alive, Qiu's masterful fifth Inspector Chen mystery (after 2006's A Case of Two Cities) finds Shanghai terrorized by its first-ever serial killer. The murderer dresses his victims' corpses in fancy red mandarin dresses before leaving them in public places. Insp. Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department has taken a step back from his professional life to pursue an advanced literature course instead of investigating a politically sensitive corruption case, but now he must return to active duty and help in the manhunt. He learns that the symbolic garb may be connected to the corruption scandal, but not before a young female officer falls prey. The solution may strike some as a little pat, but the first-rate characterizations and elegant portrait of a society attempting to move from rigid Maoist ideologies to an accommodation with capitalism will keep readers engaged and eager for more. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Shanghai Police Chief Inspector Chen is making one last stab at attaining his graduate degree in literature. However, he is asked to take a look at a case involving financial corruption on a high level. Then there are the murders of young women clad in red mandarin dresses. Whether he is chasing a serial killer or a thieving bureaucrat, Chen is at his best dodging political land mines and solving personal dilemmas. In this fifth entry in an outstanding series (Death of a Red Heroine), author Qiu captures the bustling atmosphere of modern China coming to grips with its Communist roots. Patrons who enjoy mysteries set in today's China, such as those by Peter May, will want this one. The author lives in St. Louis.


—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
A methodical serial killer's method baffles Shanghai police. A morning jogger discovers the corpse of a beautiful young woman in a vintage red Mandarin dress. With Chief Inspector Chen Cao (A Case of Two Cities, 2006, etc.) on a leave of absence to pursue an advanced degree in literary studies, the case falls to his uninspired second-in-command, Det. Yu, who's eager to fly solo and make a favorable impression. Chen's leave doesn't stop an influential member of the Shanghai People's Congress from insisting that Chen investigate a politically sensitive case involving a local housing project. So Chen's literary investigation gets folded in with metropolitan police pursuits and such arcane studies as the sociological and sexual symbolism behind the red Mandarin dress. A second dead girl in identical attire prompts police to look for patterns. This second victim was a "three-accompanying girl" (a prostitute) and the first worked long hours in a hotel to avoid such a fate. Clues lead police to a local dance club, where they set up a sting in which eager young policewoman Hong acts as a decoy. The plan goes so terribly wrong-Hong vanishes and is later found dead in a red Mandarin dress-that Chen puts his studies on hold to unravel the complex psychology of the killer. The author's heady plot highlights his strengths, elegantly capturing China in transition. A fascinating read.
From the Publisher
"The first-rate characterizations and elegant portrait of a society attempting to move from rigid Maoist ideologies to an accommodation with capitalism will keep readers engaged and eager for more." —Publisher's Weekly

 

"In this fifth entry in an outstanding series...author Qiu captures the bustling atmosphere of modern China coming to grips with its Communist roots. Patrons who enjoy mysteries set in today's China, such as those by Peter May, will want this one." —Library Journal (starred review)

 

"The author's heady plot highlights his strenghts, elegantly capturing China in transition.  A fascinating read." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312371074
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/27/2007
  • Series: Inspector Chen Cao Series , #5
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

QIU XIAOLONG was born and lived in Shanghai, where he was a renowned poet and translator. He is currently best known for his novels featuring Inspector Chen, including the award-winning Death of a Red Heroine and the forthcoming The Mao Case. Qiu lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very enjoyable but disconcerting

    I think Harriet captured the plot very well in her comments. I have enjoyed each of Inspector Chen series very much, and I look forward to #7. You learn about the Chinese culture, history, and poetry, although this book has much less poetry quotations than the others. I did find this book disconcerting in the violence aspect - the description of the young women that the serial killer left in an very exposed manner, the original crimes and conditions that led to the serial killer becoming who he is, and the description of the "cruel" meal. The description of the violence is "G" or "PG" rated compared to a Laurell Hamilton "Anita Blake" novel. Even the somewhat of a nervous breakdown that Inspector Chen has due to the stress from the job bothered me although we are not clear if it was entirely due to stress or perhaps an underlying condition, although the mini-vacation arranged by his friend, Gu, does restore his vitality through an intriguing yin-yang, healing banquet.

    Not having gone to a ladies of the night house myself, I found it amusing to see how a 100 yuan fee could rapidly (no minimum expense) quickly uses all of Inspector Chen's pocket money when he visits the Henshan Nightclub as part of his investigation and all the hidden fees one may incur.

    The book has one of the endings that may be good, may be sad, and realizing how the crimes of the past can create crimes of today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A reviewer

    Shanghai Chief Inspector Chen Cao handles the most sensitive political cases and the most traumatic to the public. Currently he is on a rare leave of absence attending an advanced literature class so his ambitious but insipid subordinate Detective Yu is in charge Yu sees this as a chance to prove his superiority over his boss to those in charge. However, Yu¿s desires mean nothing to the Shanghai People's Congress, who demand Chen personally investigate a politically charged corruption involving a housing project. Additionally the city is terrorized by the first known serial killer, who poses his victims in red mandarin dresses. Chen leads the two inquires as Yu seethes and soon connects the cases, but not before a sting operation leads to one of his police officers killed wearing the red mandarin dress. The investigation has turned personal. --- This terrific Communist China police procedural, likes its four predecessors (see DEATH OF A RED HEROINE, A LOYAL CHARACTER DANCER, WHEN RED IS BLACK and A CASE OF TWO CITIES), provides fans with a deep look at a society in transition. The serial killer investigation and the corruption inquiry showcase how careful a cop must be in solving crimes in a strict dictatorial society. Chen is fabulous as he puts his studies on the back burner to work the cases, but especially when he realize Officer Hong is one of the dead. However, it is Qiu Xiaolong¿s powerful glimpse of Shanghai dancing with capitalistic globalization yet remaining communist that makes this a winner. --- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted December 22, 2013

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    Posted June 10, 2011

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